Bridging the gap on the right to self-organization between the Philippine legal system and the International Labor Organization conventions
Date of Publication
College of Law
Domingo T. Añonuevo
Defense Panel Chair
Joeven D. Dellosa
Defense Panel Member
Ryan Jeremiah D. Quan
Jan Aldrin C. Ramos
The State must protect the rights of workers and promote their welfare. This is a command derived from the 1987 Philippine Constitution as well as a binding commitment from the ratification of International Labor Organization (ILO) fundamental conventions on the right to self-organization. The Labor Code as a legislative enactment must perforce abide by the same mandate if it were to be consistent with the Constitution and the ILO Conventions. Mere membership in the International Labor Organization, without ratification, compels member states to abide by the provisions of its fundamental conventions.
This writing focused on ILO Conventions No. 87 and 98 (ILO Conventions). Using these two conventions as standards to assess Philippine laws on the right of workers to self-organize, the author sought to identify inconsistencies, particularly concerning the right to form, join or assist labor organizations. The author first surveyed the municipal laws on this right and other related rights. Subsequently, the author referred to the ILO Committee on Freedom of Associations’ recommendations to appreciate the conventions’ provisions holistically.
Overall, the municipals laws are compliant with the mandates of the International Labor Organization Conventions. However, no legal system is without inadequacies in recognizing, promoting, and enforcing the rights of its people. Scouring through the municipal laws, the author identifies several inconsistencies.
The author found two (2) actual inconsistencies between the ILO Conventions and the municipal laws. The domestic laws and the ILO Conventions clash regarding the foreign workers’ right to self-organization and the local labor organizations’ right to foreign assistance. The ILO Conventions mandate the unqualified grant of the right to form, join or assist labor organizations to aliens; the municipal laws set compliance with the rule on reciprocity as a prerequisite. The ILO Conventions liberally allow foreign assistance to labor organizations; domestic laws regulate it strictly.
There is also the “inconsistency” between the ILO Conventions and the municipal laws. That is so far as the local regulations require at least twenty percent (20%) membership support for union registration and insofar as it requires at least ten (10) Locals or Chapters who are exclusive bargaining representatives to form a Federation or National Union. These local laws do not directly violate the ILO Conventions, which recognize the right of ILO member-States to set a minimum percentage of membership support. But the local laws’ requirement is an “inconsistency” in that it constitutes a hurdle for the more straightforward exercise of the right of workers to form, join or assist independent unions. Similarly, the minimum number of affiliating locals/chapters in the registration of a National Union or Federation serves as a hurdle for exercising the right to form, join or assist labor federations.
The author humbly proposes recommendations to address these inconsistencies. The identification and resolution of these “inconsistencies” not only enables Philippine municipal law to be fully compliant with the provisions of the conventions but also allows a freer exercise of the right of workers to form, join, or assist in organizations.
International Labor Organization; Labor unions—Law and legislation; Labor unions—Organizing; Labor laws and legislation
Untalan, I. H. (2021). Bridging the gap on the right to self-organization between the Philippine legal system and the International Labor Organization conventions. Retrieved from https://animorepository.dlsu.edu.ph/etdm_law/3
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